Today I read Genesis 17 and it's one of those chapters that have some JST corrections and they are so important that it makes me wonder what the Christian world would be like today if they had been left in the Bible to begin with? This is the chapter that the Lord institutes circumcision, the practice where the foreskin of the penis is removed. If you read just what we have in the King James Version, they are only doing it because God asked them to. Now, this is ok, we definitely should do things because the Lord wants us to do them. However, the JST restores the reason the Lord gave to Abraham.
Now, Abraham was 99 years old when circumcision was instituted and Ishmael was 13 years old. However, the Lord declared that it is to take place when the child is 8 days old. This seems like a pretty arbitrary age to do it, unless you have the JST. In the JST God explains that waiting until they are 8 days old is to symbolize that children do not reach the age of accountability until 8 years old. Now, at first this seems like a pretty weird thing to bring up out of the blue like that, but it actually ties in to the earlier part of the chapter.
God was talking to Abraham about the covenants He had made with Abraham and why it was made. The Joseph Smith Translation restores a very significant reason why. According to the JST, the other people of Abraham's time who had been taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, were practicing infant baptism. I know I have read this before but I did not remember this at all and was quite surprised that this incorrect doctrine has been around for that long. God is upset by this extremely incorrect practice and so to give every parent of the covenant a less than subtle reminder of when children need baptism, he institutes circumcision. I guess it did at it was intended to because you never hear about infant baptism until after the days of Jesus.
The JST also states that the people of the covenant did not understand the Atonement at all. Satan was apparently working really hard to corrupt the doctrine of the Saints even then. And I can understand why he seemed to have such success, I mean there was no long range communication. How would one group of Saints know that what they were doing was wrong when there was no prophet nearby to correct them? But according to the JST, the people who should have known better, were teaching that Abel's blood had been shed for them and that through his sacrifice, they would be saved. This is another another point that I know I have read before but did not remember.
Both of these twists of doctrine are perfect examples of how Satan will take correct doctrine, and then warp it. The Atonement is the most precious and important doctrine in the whole universe. Without it, our whole lives are completely meaningless. There is no point to our coming down here because the day of our 8th birthday, we fail because we will inevitably make a mistake. But Satan was able to warp some Saints understanding of it to make them think it was Abel who had died for their sins. Likewise, baptism is essential for salvation but it is only for those who have committed sins in the past. Since children under 8 years old are not accountable, they cannot commit sins and thus this is a false doctrine that makes a mockery of the innocence of children. I could not imagine baptizing my little girl. The sheer idea of it just makes me shake my head.
Satan is good at what he does and we need to be vigilant always. If we do not read our scriptures, say our prayers, attend our church meetings, then we leave ourselves exposed to the temptations of Satan. It would be like going into battle with only some of our armor. We must always stay vigilant, do the "primary answers" and attend the temple as often as possible. We have to work at being righteous. In this day and age of wickedness, it's hard to have it come naturally. Until tomorrow.